Facebook’s much-ridiculed attempt to rebrand dominated the internet discourse on Thursday. But there was an aspect of the name change and introduction of the “metaverse” that piqued the interest of the British.
While Mark Zuckerberg fronted the announcement, a familiar figure in the world of UK politics was acting as something of a hypeman.
Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister and ex-leader of the Liberal Democrats, is Facebook’s vice‑president for global affairs and communications, a well-remunerated role he picked up in 2018, three years after being voted out of parliament.
His job was to explain how Facebook, despite accusations over its corrosive effect on democracy and the damage it is causing children, is A Good Thing. A tough job, but one that commands a £2.7 million salary.
Clegg’s starring role in the relaunch was brought to wider attention by journalist Carole Cadwalladr, who posted a clip of his stilted conversation with Zuckerberg
“Here he is allaying fears that the metaverse might destroy democracy or launch nuclear missiles from your toaster which of course it can’t,” she explains.
It begins with acting so wooden you’d be mistaken for thinking someone had thrown a chair into shot – “Hey Mark, I hope I’m not interrupting. You got a sec? I just love the presentation so far, it’s such visionary stuff…” – and doesn’t get much better.
His appearance brought together The Sun’s political editor and guitar legend Johnny Marr in a moment of shared second-hand embarrassment. In short, everyone was deeply unimpressed, and memories were soon being shared about how “Cleggmania” of 2010 gave way to his party’s U-turn on raising university tuition fees and signing off on Conservative austerity.